What's that bus trip from Kratie to Banlung like?
(Answered by anecdote and update, October 2010/August 2011)
30,000 Riel for the ticket.
Decided to write this one on the road. So the bus rolled in to Kratie about 1:20pm. I had all of my supplies set. Bought some meat at the meat paradise near the market, fruit around the corner from there, and beer. All set for a long journey. So I hop on the bus. All kinda barang (foreigner) going on here. They must be headed to Stung Treng to go to Laos (dumbasses). Anyway, with all my supplies set... we stop 8 minutes north of Kratie for a break of like 25 minutes. Sweet. Anyway, back on the bus, going to finish this Anchor and check in again...
So, been fading in and out of consciousness for a while. It's 4:27pm. I'm assuming we've passed the turnoff for Stung Treng already. I cam into this trip thinking that the road from Stung Treng to Banlung had been made all smooth and pretty and stuff. Not this section. We've been bouncing along a bumpy dirt road for like a half hour now. Pretty slow. The Khmer guy next to me estimated we were still about two hours out of Banlung. When is this road gonna begin to be awesome? Or is my dissertation project a big fat lie (prolly the latter)?
4:54pm. Just stopped for a pee and smoke break. Road is still crap. I asked the bus manager guy how long more to Banlung. He said 3 hours. Awesome. Gonna crack another beer.
5:55pm and we're just cming off a half hour stop. We weren't encouraged to get off the bus like at a rest stop. We just sat. After a while some people began to get off out of boredom and nicotine cravings. They reported that what was going on outside was that they were putting water on the engine. Kinda feels like a "let's make sure the foreigners get into town well after dark so we can move them towards guesthouses who pay us off" thing. I dunno. We'll see. I'm out of meat and beer. Getting less happy...
Up until arrival, Khmers were calling home complaining about how the bus kept breaking. From talking to tourists coming on the big bus, it seems like they all break, and an 8pm arrival is pretty normal, and that's when we got in. Guesthouse touts attacked the bus. This is standard for many places, but I didn't know that had become the case for Banlung. I was happy I knew where I was going to stay already. Anyway, I've been on worse bus trips.
UPDATE: The road from Stung Treng to Banlung is much nicer now and a new bridge has been built. The trip is now about two hours shorter. The trip from Kratie to Banlung now takes about 3.5 hours.